Gallstones Symptoms, Causes And Treatment
Bile is fluid in the gallbladder that play a role in the digestion of fats. If this liquid hardens, it will form gallstones. The size of gallstones varies. Some are as small as a grain of sand and as big as a ping-pong ball. The number of stones that form in the gallbladder also vary, for example, there are people who have only one stone and nothing more.
Gallstones form due to hardening of cholesterol which accumulates in the bile. This occurs because of the imbalance between cholesterol and chemical compound in the fluid.
Gallstones generally do not cause pain, so do not require special handling. But if this stone clog the gallbladder, the patient will experience symptoms of pain in the right part of the stomach that comes suddenly or in medical terms know as biliary colic.
Here are factors that may increase your risk of gallstones:
Age factor : Risk of gallstone disease increases with age. The disease is commonly experienced by people over the age of 40 years.
Gender: A woman’s risk of developing gallstone disease is two times higher than the risk of men.
The impact of childbirth : Women who never give birth have a higher risk. The cause may be due to increased cholesterol levels due to changes in hormones during pregnancy.
The influence of weight : Your risk increases if you have excess weight or obesity.
Presence of gallstones is not detrimental to health. But if disturbing symptoms or complications occur, the disease should be treated. Treatments for gallstones are usually performed by surgical removal of the gallbladder. Although the function of this organ is important , your body can still survive without owning it.Liver will still secrete bile liquid that helps in digestion of fats without gallbladder.The type of surgery that is commonly recommended is the operation known as laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This type of surgery is recommended as a simple method with low complication risk level.
Gallstones can cause complications in the body. One of them is the inflammation of the gallbladder (cholelithiasis) with the symptoms:
- Constant abdominal pain.
- High fever.
- Acute pancreatitis is also one of the risk which is dangerous if gallstones enter and inhibit the pancreatic duct. This inflammation of the pancreas will lead to abdominal pain and continue to get worse.
Symptoms of Gallstones
Gallstones generally do not cause disease. Symptoms only appear if the stones clog the ducts of the gallbladder or the digestive tract. The main symptoms that usually are experienced abdominal pain that comes suddenly.
The pain can occur in some parts of the abdomen. Among of them are central part of the abdomen or in the upper, right side of the abdomen. This pain can also spread to the side of the body or the shoulder blades. Symptoms of abdominal pain also vary, for example:
- Can appear anytime.
- Can last for several minutes up to hours.
- Will not be reduced despite having been to the toilet, farting, or vomiting.
- The frequency of its appearance is rare but can be triggered by foods with high fat content.
If the gallstones cause a blockage in one of the digestive tract, the following symptoms may appear:
Abdominal pain that persists or always come back.
- High fever.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Itching on the skin.
- Loss of appetite.
- Nausea and vomiting.
It is important for you to be aware of biliary colic symptoms despite feels trivial and inconsistent. Immediately consult your doctor if you experience severe abdominal pain that lasts more than eight hours, jaundice or fever.
Causes of Gallstones
The main cause of the appearance of gallstones is suspected due to an imbalance between cholesterol and chemical compound in the bile. Flakes of crystals will usually develop into a stone in many years. Almost 80 percent of gallstones are made of cholesterol and about 20 percent are made of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a pigment found in bile.
The size of gallstones are formed also vary. Some are as small as grains of sand and some can be ping pong ball-sized. There are people who have only one stone and nothing more. The possibility of the emergence of gallstones is different in each person. Specifically, women are at risk two times higher than men. Especially women who have been pregnant, taking birth control pills, or undergoing hormone therapy high doses.
Here are the other factors that increase the risk to suffer from gallstones:
- Aged over 40 years.
- Having a family member with the same disease.
- Often eating fatty foods or high cholesterol.
- Lack of fiber in the diet.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Patients with cirrhosis.
- Patients with gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
- People using ceftriaxone, which is an antibiotic that can be used to treat pneumonia, meningitis, and gonorrhea.
- People who lost weight drastically.
Diagnosis of Gallstones
If you feel the symptoms that indicate the occurrence of complications, You should immediately see a doctor. As a first step, You will undergo a physical examination. The gallbladder is located in the right upper abdomen. Patients will be asked to breathe in, then the doctor will press the upper right abdomen. If it hurts, there might be inflammation of the gallbladder.
If it is proven so, the advanced test will be recommended the doctor to ensure the level of severity of the inflammatory properties.
A blood test
A blood test can be done to check if infection occurs or to check the liver function of the patient. Liver function will be disrupted if there is a gallstone moving into the bile duct.
If the patient is experiencing severe stomach pain, the type of scan is often used as an emergency examination in the diagnosis process. CT scan is also used to check whether complications occur due to gallstones, for example acute pancreatitis.
Ultrasound tests will be performed by your doctor.
The scanning process detail is done to check for the presence of gallstones in the digestive tract.
Cholangiography is carried out to check the presence of stones in the digestive tract including the bile duct. Examination by cholangiography, using a type of dye that is injected into the patient’s bloodstream. With this ink, the digestive tract can be learned after X-ray images are taken. If bile ducts function properly, dye will be successful flow into the liver, biliary tract, colon, and gallbladder.
Treatment of Gallstones
The impact and the development of gallstones vary in each person. Therefore, some of them feel symptoms and some do not feel. Step treatment will be tailored to how symptoms influence you.
Early Stage at Gallstones
Increased vigilance and regular monitoring often becomes the main recommendations in dealing with this condition. If gallstones do not cause any symptoms in your life, doctors usually recommend medical intervention. if you have other illnesses that may increase the possibility of complications, you will be encouraged to undergo treatment. Types of diseases that increase the risk of complications of gallstones are cirrhosis, diabetes, or portal hypertension (high blood pressure that occurs in the liver).
If you have gallstones, step treatment will be recommended. This is due to a combination of gallstones and high calcium can cause gallbladder cancer if it is left unchecked.
Next Phase of Gallstones
The main symptoms of this disease are he appearance of abdominal pain or biliary colic. Type of treatment also depends on the severity of symptoms:
If You are experiencing mild stomach pain and rarely appear, doctors may recommend the consumption of a painkiller (analgesic) and a healthy diet to control the symptoms.
If you experience severe abdominal pain and frequent, the doctor will usually recommend removal procedure of the gallbladder.
Operation Steps in Gallstones Treatment
If your symptoms are very severe, gallbladder may have to be removed through surgery.You do not need fear gallbladder is not important organ that you must have to survive.
Most common recommended treatment is surgical removal of the gallbladder through the operation. This operation is called the operation of ‘key-hole’ because of the size of the incision made is very small, about 1 cm. This operation is performed with the application of general anesthesia. You will be asleep during the procedure so you will not feel pain. Patient recovery time is usually around 1-2 weeks.
Cholecystectomy with an open incision
This operation will be selected if the gallstones can’t be removed with surgery’’ laparoscopic cholecystectomy’’ or the patient’s condition does not allow to undergo laparoscopic cholecystectomy. For example because:
Layout of the gallbladder of patients are difficult to reach
Patient can be obese
After undergoing cholecystectomy with an open incision, patients need to stay in hospital for 5-6 days. The time needed for a full recovery is also longer than the operation’’ laparoscopic cholecystectomy’’ which is about 1.5 months. But the effectiveness of this operation is the same as laparoscopic cholecystectomy surgery.
Endoscopic Retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
Blockage due to stones in the bile duct can be treated by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography procedures.
ERCP is usually performed with the application of a local anesthetic and takes about 30-40 minutes. After undergoing this procedure, patients generally need to stay one night in hospital for monitoring conditions.
Gallstones are small that can be treated with ursodeoxycholic acid. This drug is able to dissolve gallstones. But these drugs are rarely recommended to deal with gallstones because:
- Low level of effectiveness.
- Patients must drink it for a long time (sometimes more than one year).
- Gallstones can re-emerge if the consumption is stopped.
- Ursodeoxycholic acid is not also recommended for pregnant or nursing women. These drugs also may affect the effectiveness of birth control pills.
In addition as a medication, ursodeoxycholic acid is also recommended to prevent the formation of gallstones for those at high risk.
Effect of Diet
Changing your diet by eating only low-fat foods can not cure gallstones , but keeping your diet healthy and balanced can help you to maintain good health and reduce the pain due to gallstones.
Gallstones can cause a blockage in the bile duct or move into the digestive system. This is what usually leads to serious complications.
Inflammation Of The Gallbladder Acute
Cholecystitis or acute inflammation of the gall bladder occurs when bile accumulates in the gallbladder because of gallstones that clog the discharge channel. The symptoms in acute cholecystitis which is a pain in the upper abdomen radiate shoulder blades, high fever, and rapid heartbeat.
Antibiotics are generally used as the first treatment to overcome the infection before the surgical removal of the gallbladder done.
An abscess of the Gallbladder
Pus can sometimes appear in the gallbladder due to severe infection. If this happens, treatment with antibiotics is not enough and pus will need to be vacuumed.
Peritonitis is inflammation in the lining of the stomach next to the peritoneum. This complication occurs due to the rupture of the gallbladder.
Acute pancreatitis is also one of the complication that can occur if the gallstones clog the pancreas. Inflammation of the pancreas will cause severe pain in the middle of the abdomen. The pain will worsen and spread to the back, especially after eating.
In addition to abdominal pain, acute pancreatitis can also cause other symptoms. These are diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, high fever and jaundice among symptoms.
The position of the slouch or curl may be able to help relieve the abdominal pain due to acute pancreatitis. These complications can not be cured by medical treatment.
Cancer Of The Gallbladder
Patients with gallstones have a higher risk for cancer of the gallbladder. However, the probability of occurrence is very rare, even for people who are at high risk due to hereditary factors. Surgical removal of the gallbladder will be recommended to prevent cancer. Especially, if You have a calcium level that high in the gallbladder. The symptoms of this cancer is almost the same with the disease of the gallstones which include abdominal pain, high fever, and jaundice.
How to Prevent Gallstones
Changing diet and losing weight for those who are obese may help prevent the formation of gallstones.
Gallstones form due to hardening of accumulated cholesterol in the bile. Therefore, we should avoid consumption of foods containing fat and high cholesterol.
Avoid from these foods :
- Cake and snack chips
- Too much consuming alcohol can also increase risk for you
- Foods made from legumes such as peanut sauce
You are advised to avoid demanding strict diet to eat foods low in calories and fat only. Drastic weight loss in a short time can also increase the risk of gallstone formation.